Every four weeks, ORWAV explores the movie month ahead through the medium of song! Upcoming releases, notable births and anniversaries and a general celebration of the films, directors, technicians and performers that we love so much. The leaves are falling, the skies are darkening and we’re settling in with some warming soundtracks for an exciting month. We’re in the thick of it for great releases, so let’s grab our umbrellas and wade into October…
This month is traditionally good for both quality and diversity: we have international directors from Australia, Canada, Spain and Greece trotting out exciting new releases amongst the usual crop of Americans and Brits – who, for their part, are generally giving us much better stuff than usual as half the industry vies for awards recognition. Only in October could we see figures like Justin Kurzel and Yorgos Lanthimos receive as much publicity as Robert Zemeckis, Nancy Meyers and Stephen Frears. Only in October could the hottest films include not just high-budget James Bond, Adam Sandler and Disney-Peter Pan vehicles but also Mexican border dramas, feminist histories and acclaimed Australian family films. We love October. Let’s get started.
Kurzel’s film, of course, is not very Australian at all – though his Macbeth, which premiered to good notices at Cannes, certainly has the same violent borderland feel we’ve come to expect after his debut Snowtown. Once again enlisting his talented brother Jed for scoring duties, Macbeth‘s title theme is a searing, rumbling slice of doomladen mysticism, or words to that effect. Justin, clearly talented, is beginning to pigeonhole himself (maybe something less bloody next time?) but Jed, equally gifted, is officially going from strength to strength. Watch – or listen to – this space.
From the Bard to another British institution, with the sequel to the UK’s biggest-ever film: we, and everyone else on the web, will be dedicating one helluva lot of pixels to Spectre as it prepares to land at month’s end. First Playlist inclusion is Skyfall‘s Oscar-winning title theme, just to get us pumped (it is, after all, one of the best Bond songs ever. So sue me!); then the somewhat more controversial ‘Writing’s on the Wall’ courtesy of Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes. Frankly, despite lacking any sort of buildup or climax, there is much to enjoy here: a good melody, lush instrumentation and a real all-timer of an intro. As always, we’ll see how this fits into the actual opening credits – sure to be spectacular thanks yet again to Daniel Kleinman – but on the face of it, the worst thing about Smith’s effort is simply that PR nightmare of a statement: It only took 20 minutes to write.
Another Cannes film, Sicario sees Denis Villeneuve collecting yet another dream cast and crew and sending them out to the desert. Could Benicio Del Toro nab an Oscar nomination? Could Roger Deakins (who’s been acknowledged for his Villeneuve work before, with Prisoners)? Then there’s prestigious composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, who nearly won gold for his Theory of Everything score earlier this year. His new score seems a little patchy, unoriginal and occasionally samey – as if Jóhannsson spent a few months studying Reznor & Ross and actually turned the “atmosphere” up to 11. There are, though, flashes of audial brilliance – including ‘Drywall’ – and his style here is quite interesting… so who knows? At the very least, a moody track like this makes Sicario unbearably exciting.
Older hand Alan Silvestri, meanwhile, makes a big return to the fold after some recent water-treading by scoring The Walk for longtime collaborator Robert Zemeckis. And what a score it is! It flits between styles and genres, it goes utterly bombastic without forgoing the nice quiet bits, and on the whole it’s pitched somewhere between a good, modern “spectacle” score and something with a little more heart. It’s a perfect throwback to his most famous score (you know the one), yet as with the film’s daredevil protagonist is never afraid to move forward just a little bit. Much better than his more typical blockbuster pieces (apart from maybe The Avengers). This may not ultimately be one of 2015’s absolute top-tier film soundtracks, but with The Walk looking for a few technical award nods this shiny, vertiginous score could gain a lot of followers in the coming months. Look forward to Silvestri hitting the spotlight once more.
Russian-born animator Genndy Tartakovsky, one of the best in the business, is back with another film arguably beneath his more stylised visions; although Hotel Transylvania 2 does pack real panache into its design and has a mildly diverting song in the form of ‘I’m in Love with a Monster’, by Fifth Harmony. Put it this way: if you were forced to watch any Adam Sandler film in 2015…
Even scarier of course is Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak, set quite pointedly for a big Hallowe’en release. The words “romantic Gothic horror” are, aside from being individual buzzwords, quite scant these days. For those of us who spend our Octobers reading Daphne Du Maurier and watching ’40s melodramas, Crimson Peak could be a welcome addition to the spook party (or, if you will, the Werewolf Bar Mitzvah). Here’s regular collabora-toro (yeah, yeah) Fernando Velázquez‘ ‘A New Home’, from the equally creepy Mama.
Three other films play us out: ‘The Vikings Have Their Tea’, a brilliant coda to How to Train Your Dragon courtesy of John Powell – scoring Joe Wright’s upcoming Pan; ‘Learn to Live’, an original song from Australian coming-of-age drama Paper Planes, already very well-liked and certainly worth a watch; and finally, the beautiful title track from Syriana, courtesy of Alexandre Desplat. Taken together, the three tracks say a lot about that October-specific movie mishmash: a Disney fantasy, a smaller international drama and, finally, British political-historical flick Suffragette, which Desplat is scoring. We may be approaching the end of 2015 but, as always, the world of cinema is only just getting prepared for the next year.